Being guided by Tony Nikolakopoulos, the directing actors workshop was an eye-opening experience into the art of getting the best performance out of your actor. Alongside the screenwriters, we learnt different techniques, exercises, and methods on making actors comfortable in their space, and workshopping their performance to make it the best it could be.
We began the workshop with an icebreaker. Naturally, this made everyone incredibly uncomfortable, but evidently relaxed and more at ease by the end of it. It involved us looking, feeling, and being silly, but we were doing it as a collective group; which, somehow, made it better. Through these odd and seemingly ridiculous exercises, we learned to trust each other enough to be open and exposed in our performances, which was essentially the idea behind it.
It was interesting to put ourselves into the position of being the actor. Personally, I have never had any prior experience in acting, so this was an unchartered territory for me. Seeing and experiencing the direction I received from fellow classmates and the screenwriters was interesting to see what direction I liked, what direction I didn’t, and what aspects could be improved. By giving and receiving direction, we were able to learn from each other and see the good and bad points of each of our styles.
Improvisation was one of the elements of the workshop that I thoroughly enjoyed watching and partaking in. It involved everyone thinking on their feet and expressing the first thoughts and actions that came to mind. It was interesting to see how different individuals interpreted different things, and how they expressed themselves. I found this particular technique to be incredibly useful for auditioning actors as it allowed me to catch a glimpse of their personality and their interpretation of the script.
Workshopping performances were a very interesting aspect throughout the directing actors workshop as well. It was challenging to learn how to handle different personalities and how to express your opinions in the most diplomatic manner possible. Initially, this was difficult as we weren’t comfortable enough with each other to be as honest as we should have been. However, as the workshop progressed, we became more comfortable in expressing our ideas and explicitly giving our opinions and thoughts regarding other people’s performances.
Looking back on the workshop at the end of the semester, it’s interesting to see how each of the different techniques that Tony showed us, and allowed us to experiment with, has integrated into the production of our films. Auditioning actors for my second production exercise was definitely a lot more concentrated on bringing out the performance I wanted, as opposed to the performance the actors delivered based on their interpretation of the script. Not only was the workshop educating in regards to giving and receiving direction, but it was also a great team-building workshop that allowed the students within our class to create a bond and work together cohesively toward a goal.